One step into this old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream parlor, and you’re whisked back to an earlier, sweeter era. Everything from home-mixed ice cream in waffle cones made right in the store to scratch-made flavored soads and rich, tasty malts from the old-school Hamilton Beach mixer and the metal cup delights the senses. A wall of candies, chocolates, nuts, and other treats make this one of the more complete confectioneries you’ll find anywhere – it could be the 1930s in here!
The Pearl is located right on (surprise!) Pearl Street in downtown La Crosse, right near the La Crosse Center. U.S. 53 begins just to the east; U.S 14/61 and Highways 16 and 33 are just a few blocks to the south; and Highway 35 is about a mile to the east. Basically, if you heard towards downtown La Crosse where all the bars, restaurants, shops, and nightlife are, you’re practically within eyeshot of The Pearl. It’s definitely a great, sweet stop.
Want a fresh waffle cone? They don’t get any fresher than this!
I stocked up on candy cigs; you don’t find them around very often. Don’t worry, I paid for them.
207 Pearl Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 782-6655 Website
Right along Highway 33 in beautiful Baraboo, the Ochsner Park & Zoo offers 26 acres of parkland and a free zoo covering two of them. Ochsner originally opened in 1926 and features an interesting variety of animals for a relatively small zoo: a snow leopard, a Capuchin (just acquired in 2015), bobcats, prairie dogs, a black bear, llamas, wolves, and a series of birds. The zoo is open year ’round seven days a week. It opens at 8:30am; closing times vary throughout the year: 7:30pm during summer, 5:30pm in fall and spring, and 3:00pm in winter.
The Dahl Auto Museum offers a stroll down memory lane, where you can immerse yourself in the rich history of automobiles. The Dahl family has been in the automotive dealer business for over 100 years, spanning five generations – so they know their history and have an impressive collection to show. Much is shown “through the eyes” of the Ford Motor Company; there’s also an extensive mascot collection and many beautifully restored classic automobiles from the turn of the century to present.
The museum is downtown in La Crosse, along 3rd Street. U.S. 14, 53, and 61, along with Highways 16, 33, or 35, bring you either there or within blocks.
The Dahl Auto Museum is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10am-4pm. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for Seniors and Kids 9-16, and free for Kids under 8 and service guests of Dahl.
711 3rd Street South
La Crosse, WI
(608) 791-6494 Website
Exhibits and interactive displays for children of all ages cover three floors, and the Mt. LeKid Climbing Wall lets grown-ups compete with the kids to see who can reach the top. It’s an impressive museum for a city the size of La Crosse, and it draws families from all over the region.
Hours: Tuesdays–Saturdays, 10am-5pm, Sundays Noon-5pm. Closed Mondays and major holidays.
Admission: $7.00 per person admission ($6 on Sundays). Infants (under 12 months) are free.
207 5th Avenue South
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 784-2652 Website
Located in a library and part of the La Crosse County Historical Society, the Swarthout Museum features an extensive look at the history of La Crosse, features one of the few remaining horse-drawn fire pumpers in the world, and rotates exhibits frequently. You’ll find a lot of artifacts and period clothing from as far back at the 1850s, when La Crosse first became a city.
112 9th Street N
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 782-1980 Website
The Circus World Museum is a place where boys, girls and children of all ages can see how circuses have worked and entertained people for generations. As they say, “experience the thrill that never gets old.” Featuring a Circus Museum, an area called Ringlingville, a wide variety of circus animals and the World’s Largest Circus Wagon Collection, Baraboo’s Circus World Museum is open 10am-4pm daily. History abounds; a series of buildings in the Circus World Museum date back to the 19th century and plenty of plaques will tell you more.
Circus World Museum is right along Highway 113 on the south side of Baraboo; U.S. 12 is to the west and Highway 33 is just to the north.
550 Water Street
Baraboo, WI 53913
(608) 356-8341 Website
Pearl Street has long been a center of activity in La Crosse, and La Crosse has long been a major beer town. The Pearl Street Brewery combined the two to offer residents, visitors, and many UW-La Crosse students (21 and over) several craft beers in the heart of downtown “LAX”.
Pearl Street Brewery opened up in 1999, the same year monster brewer G. Heileman shut its doors just to the south (today, it’s City Brewery.) While still serving beer on Pearl Street (and 3rd Street, famous for being packed with bars), the brewery and Tasting Room have moved north of downtown a bit to a 100-year old former Rubber Mills boot factory just east of Highway 35 that offers plenty of room for both brewing and tasting. The Tasting Room is open every day but Sunday and Monday, and you can take a tour (a “Brewery Tourery” as they call it) on Saturdays from noon to 5pm.
Popular Pearl Street brews include their D.T.B. Brown Ale, which won a Gold medal at the World Beer Championships; Rubber Mills Pils, in salute of the factory in which they now operate; Pearl Street Pale Ale; El Hefe Bavarian Hefeweizen; Java Lava Coffee Stout; and the – get ready – “That’s What I’m Talkin’ ‘Bout Organic Rolled Oat Stout.”
Pearl Street’s Tasting Room is a few blocks off Highway 35, north of U.S. 14/61 and Highways 16 and 33 by a few miles. U.S. 53 is just to the west and I-90 crosses just two miles to the north.
1401 Saint Andrew Street
La Crosse, WI 54603
(608) 784-4832 Website
City Brewery in La Crosse grew out of the former G. Heileman Brewing, a longtime La Crosse legacy that brewed Old Style, Colt .45, and many other national brands. Heileman started in La Crosse back in 1858 and in the 1980s was the third largest brewer in the U.S. after acquiring regional brands around the country like Olympia, Rainier, Grain Belt, Blatz, and Black Label. The collapse of a holding company that acquired Heileman hastened its demise, before its late 1990s shutdown.
In 1999, City Brewery started in the former Heileman facilities; “City Brewery” was Heileman’s original name and so the legacy lives on. While Old Style is now brewed elsewhere, City Brewery produces a variety of beers and other beverages, including Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice, Angry Orchard, and Arizona Iced Tea in La Crosse as well as Iron City Beer and Sam Adams in a brewery in Latrobe, Pennsylvania that they bought in 2007.
For local La Crosse brews, City Brewery produces La Crosse Lager, which is “krausened” like Old Style was. It is the flagship brand that adorns the popular “World’s Largest Six Pack”, a set of six metal beer storage tanks formerly labeled as Old Style cans and now decorated as La Crosse Lager cans. You’ll find them just south of downtown La Crosse one block east of the Mississippi River along U.S. 14/61, close to where U.S. 53 and Highway 33 begin and where Highway 16 comes in from Minnesota. Highway 35 is just a few blocks to the east.
The brewery itself does not currently offer tours, but the World’s Largest Six Pack is a must-see and a prime State Trunk Tour photo-op. Just north of City Brewery, downtown La Crosse offers plenty of things to see and do, and the Pearl Street Brewery is also available on the north side of town.
925 S. 3rd Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 785-4200 Website